Baked Ziti with Eggplant & Chicken Sausage

Baked Ziti With Eggplant & Chicken Sausage is a pasta dish perfect for the holidays. Al dente penne pasta tossed in a tangy tomato sauce, along with tender apple chicken sausage and cinnamon-dusted roasted eggplant, is what you need on your dinner table. Top all that tastiness off with a gracious helping of mozzarella cheese, and you have the perfect anytime meal that’s ready in no time.

Overhead shot of baked ziti with wooden serving spoon

A family-style pasta recipe means less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the dish with family and friends.

Now let’s jump into this baked goodness, shall we?

Baked ziti is the definition of comfort food. Pasta layered with tomato sauce, your choice of veggies and/or proteins, and topped off with a layer of cheese then baked in the oven —that’s an easy and satisfying dinner you have right there.

Finished baking dish with baked ziti

The spiced roasted eggplant combined with apple chicken sausage is my secret ingredient that really brings out those holiday vibes. The light dusting (with cinnamon) and roasting of the eggplant give off a fragrant aroma, enhancing the eggplant by invoking a warm sweet flavor. Did I say cinnamon? Yep, trust me on this one.

The apple chicken sausage adds a slight sweetness to this dish — and it’s also less sodium and calories than your typical sausage. These two together are the perfect match when balanced by the tomato sauce.

Ingredients you’ll need to make baked ziti:

  • One 16 oz. box of ziti pasta will do the trick. Once you combine all the ingredients, you’ll easily be able to fill a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
  • You’ll sauté sliced apple chicken sausage and yellow onions together.
  • For the roasted eggplant, you’ll toss cubed eggplant with sea salt, ground cinnamon, black pepper, and olive oil.
  • You’ll start with crushed (regular and fire-roasted) tomatoes and enhance the sauce from there by adding grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, black pepper, garlic powder, and Himalayan salt.
  • Once the dish’s individual components are done, fold them all together and incorporate additional seasonings: oregano, black pepper, ground thyme, tarragon, and sea salt.
  • And we can’t forget about the cheese! While layering the baked ziti, add some more parmesan cheese and top it all off with mozzarella cheese.
Taking a serving spoon filled with pasta

How to make baked ziti:

Prepare the eggplant. Cut a whole eggplant into medium-sized cubes (don’t forget to remove the leafy ends).Place the eggplant onto a baking dish and sprinkle evenly with eggplant seasonings and finish them off with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Give them a quick toss halfway through baking to ensure they roast evenly. Set them to the side when done.

Make the sauce. Begin the sauce by adding crushed tomatoes and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes to a cooking pot on low heat. Add all tomato sauce ingredients into the pot and stir. Cooking for 10 minutes.

Cook onion and sausage. Cut your yellow onion into small pieces, then slice the apple chicken sausage. Sauté them both together on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the sausage is slightly browned.

Boil pasta. Cook your ziti pasta as instructed, then drain and add to a large bowl.

Mix ingredients. To the penne pasta, add the tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, chicken sausage & onions, and 1/2 (8 oz.) of the mozzarella cheese. Fold everything together.

Add to casserole dish (paid link) and bake. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9X13 baking dish, layer with a 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, then top off with the remaining pasta mixture. Top off with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Which pasta is best for baked ziti?

Although the dish is typically made using ziti pasta (hence the name), you can also use penne or rigatoni. They are all great for baking as they hold their shape and the noticeable ridges on the pasta’s exterior mean they do a fantastic job at soaking all the sauces and seasoning and stick well to that creamy cheese. The major difference between the two is ziti and rigatoni’s ends are cut in a straight line, versus penne is cut diagonally. Since both are cylinder-shaped, you can opt for either pasta to create this dish.

Single serving of baked ziti on plate

If you love baked pasta dishes and are looking for a main course to showcase on your holiday table, this Baked Ziti Eggplant and Apple Chicken Sausage is delicious, and it will not disappoint. Happy holidays!

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Overhead shot of baked ziti with wooden serving spoon

Baked Ziti With Eggplant and Chicken Sausage

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 13 reviews

  • Author: Eric Jones
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant & Apple Chicken Sausage combines penne pasta with tomato sauce, apple chicken sausage, and roasted eggplant.


Units Scale
  • 1 whole eggplant
  • 1 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes (paid link)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 24 oz apple chicken sausage, sliced
  • 16 oz ziti pasta
  • 16 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Cut the eggplant into medium-sized cubes. Place the eggplant onto a baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp sea salt, ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Toss with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes and fire-roasted crushed tomatoes to a cooking pot on low heat. Add grated parmesan cheese, minced garlic, oregano, ground thyme, 1 tsp black pepper, garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp sea salt into the pot. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Sauté chopped onion and sliced sausage on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the sausage is slightly browned.
  4. Cook your pasta as instructed, then drain.
  5. Add cooked pasta to a large bowl and add the prepared tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, sausage & onions, and 8 oz. mozzarella cheese. Fold until well blended.
  6. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a baking dish, sprinkle 1/2 cup parmesan cheese over this layer, then layer with the remaining pasta mixture. 
  7. Top pasta with remaining 8 oz. mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Oven Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Calories: 658
  • Sugar: 9.2g
  • Sodium: 1752mg
  • Fat: 27.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.2g
  • Fiber: 6.1g
  • Protein: 45g
  • Cholesterol: 153mg

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  1. This was the PERFECT dish to introduce my kids to eggplant! It was full of flavor, and the eggplant and chicken sausage tasted amazing together! We’ll definitely be adding this to our dinner rotation.

  2. I had actually never worked with eggplant before trying this recipe and now I’m hooked. Will be making it over and over!

  3. Chenée Lewis says:

    I’m gonna be making this all season long! The flavors were perfect, especially the cinnamon on the eggplant. So unexpected, yet so delicious!

  4. I wanted to try something new for the family, and I came across this recipe on Instagram. It looked so good I had to try – I did it was was a hit!!! Definitely making again!

  5. This is just wow! I really appreciate that you included a homemade tomato sauce in this recipe as well. So simple but makes a huge difference in taste.

  6. Crystal DaCruz says:

    This was absolutely delicious! I loved the addition of chicken sausage and the eggplant! My whole family loved this dish!

  7. Absolutely genius! The apple sausage especially just tied everything together and lit up my taste buds! Thanks a mill for this!

  8. The combination of the apple chicken sausage with the eggplant was out of this world! I’m already thinking about my leftovers for tomorrow!

  9. I’m a huge eggplant fan so I will be preparing this dish for my family!

  10. You just changed the game with that cinnamon dusted eggplant. That took the dish to a whole nother’ level. Will definitely be making this again.

  11. What a wonderful recipe! The combination of flavors is amazing. Definitely making this again.

  12. What a combination! The eggplant and the chicken apple sausage just took this ziti to the next level. I made this for dinner tonight and my family devoured it! Thanks for the great recipe!